ATHENS -- Winning 19-17 in the deciding fifth game, the BYU women's volleyball team edged host Georgia Friday to rebound from an early afternoon loss to Michigan at the Georgia Invitational.
The Cougars fought through two closely contested matches, losing to Michigan 15-13, 15-10, 15-13 before defeating Georgia 15-1, 10-15, 16 18, 15-12, 19-17.
Against Georgia, the Cougars started on a roll, dominating the first game 15-1 before finding themselves on the brink of dropping their first two matches of the year when the Bulldogs came back to take games two and three, 15-10 and 18-16. After taking leads into games four and five, the Cougars had to hold off Georgia comebacks to walk away with the final two games,15-12 and 19-17.
"Melissa (Layton) got her jump serve going in the second match and Mari did a phenomenal job hitting," explained BYU coach Elaine Michaelis. "But overall we didn't pass very well and our serving let us down at times. We need to improve those two areas."
Service errors proved very costly in the loss to Michigan. BYU committed 16 service errors in the three-game defeat to the Wolverines, often at critical times.
"Michigan played well, more like mid-season form," Michaelis said. "Both the matches were close and long. There were a lot of side outs in the Michigan match."
Senior Mari Carpenter played very well in both matches, recording 13 kills against Michigan and 18 against Georgia while hitting .333 and 486 respectively. Sophomore Nina Puikkonen led the Cougars in kills in both matches, totaling 15 and 19, while senior Caroline Bower had double digit kills in both contests, 10 and 16, while adding 20 digs over the two matches. All-American Anna-Lena Smith tossed up 65 assists to help the Cougars to a .286 hitting percentage in the win.
BYU, ranked No. 4 by Volleyball magazine and No. 7 in the AVCA/USA Today poll, will play Toledo Saturday at 1 p.m. in its final match of the Invitational.